It’s do-or-die for champions Spain as they take on impressive Chile

2014-06-18 00:00

BY the end of tonight’s action we will be far closer to knowing the fate of the teams in Groups A and B.

Group B, particularly, heats up with world champions Spain fighting for their lives in a 9 pm kick-off against Chile. With the Netherlands in action at 6 pm against underdogs Australia, Spain are likely to go into tonight’s match six points behind the side who wiped the floor with them on Friday night.

But the Spaniards won’t be overly concerned with topping the group at this stage. Battered, bruised and against the ropes, qualification to the last 16 is of most importance to Spain right now, even if second place behind the Dutch would mean a date with Brazil in the first knockout phase. Goalkeeper Iker Casillas had a nightmare in the 5-1 loss to Holland, but he has been around the block enough times for that performance to have no impact on tonight’s.

The Chileans were impressive in their dismantling of the Aussies, and they will be backing themselves for a victory and automatic qualification out of the group tonight. If Chile and Holland both win tonight, then they will qualify for the knockouts at the expense of Spain and Australia.

It is hard to see the Holland/Australia match ending any way other than in a Dutch victory. They were simply riveting against Spain, and the form of Arjen Robben was enough to give the world’s tightest defences sleepless nights, let alone the struggling Australian back four.

This World Cup has been all about goals so far, with only Nigeria and Iran playing out to a bore draw. We are likely to see more of the same tonight, and if the Dutch put in another ruthless attacking display they will solidify their position as title contenders.

Cameroon, Africa’s representation in Group A, are in tonight’s midnight kick-off against Croatia. The Europeans were bitterly unlucky to go down 3-1 to Brazil in the tournament opener after having taken the lead — a couple of dubious refereeing calls going against them. Cameroon were less unlucky against Mexico — solid enough defensively but lacking in firepower to go down 1-0. Whether deserved or otherwise, the two sides go into tonight’s match knowing that defeat would spell the end of their tournaments.

— Lloyd Burnard, Sports Editor.

TONIGHT’S FIXTURES

6 pm – Australia v Holland

9 pm – Spain v Chile

12 am – Cameroon v Croatia\

TONIGHT’S HIGHLIGHT

It is already do-or-die for Spain. How they respond from the Dutch massacre will be the one to watch tonight.

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